The decision to buy a horse is one that shouldn’t be taken lightly, and it can be a long winded and an exhausting process. These are seven stages I find myself going through when buying a horse to make sure I find the right one.

Horse for Sale


At this stage I’m excited and overly optimistic, conjuring up unrealistic images of finding the perfect horse that’ll some how make my very poor riding look like an Olympic gold medalist! So, I create a list of what I want and what I can afford to ground myself somewhat to stop me buying the first pretty horse I come across.

  • Why do I want to buy a horse? (my small herd of horses doesn’t need to turn into a big herd)
  • Do I have the time/ the money for a horse?
  • Have I got the space/ facilities for a horse?

How much will a horse cost?If I can provide good answers for all these questions and feel it’s right, then I proceed to the next stage. I’d also like to add I try to not look at any classified adverts at these stages otherwise it all goes out the window and I’m buying the cutest Shetland I come across!


In the second stage I move onto what I want from the horse and consider how much time and money I’m willing to put into the potential horse. When referring to time I’m considering the training time I want to put aside for the horse. This often then decides whether I’m looking for something along the lines of a very experienced horse or a young horse that needs a lot more training in the long run.

  • What do I want the horse to do? (compete, hacking, companion etc.)
  • What type of horse do I want?
  • How much training do I want to do with it?
  • How much money am I willing to spend for what I want?

I must be very honest with myself here as it can be easy to think that I can handle more than what I can, or have more time than I do, or even expect to get more than what I can afford. Doing research helps and making sure I know exactly what I want.


Half way through the process and only do I now allow myself to start looking through the classifieds. I continue to make a list throughout the process.

  • How far am I willing to travel to see a horse?
  • Do I feel comfortable seeing a horse on my own? Or do I want someone with more experience to come with me?

Am I willing to ride the horse? Or do I want someone else to ride it for me? (trainer or someone with more experience)

On my horse buying shortlist


At this stage I’ve trawled through endless classified adverts and very often finding fault with all of them and the excitement of buying a horse is wearing thin. However, I will have found a list of horses I feel are somewhat suitable (or just very pretty!). To shorten the list, I then refer back to stage two to rule out those horses that don’t tick all the boxes I’ve set out.

  • Does it tick all the boxes?
  • Are there any areas I’m willing to compromise on?
  • Do I think it fits the asking price?

Once I’ve got my short list I’ll go and see what horses are available still. Fingers crossed one of them lives up to my expectations!


After several journeys to see many horses and looked at them from every possible angle one catches my eye and fits the criteria I’ve set out, I think I’ve found “the one”! But now I’m curious about and so I become my own private investigator and do some research on the horse’s background.

  • If a competitive horse does it have a results record? (some organisations to try)
  • What’s the horse’s breeding?
  • Is there anyone who might know the horse or owner? (the equine community is well connected it can sometimes be good to get a recommendation)
  • Are there any social media photos or videos of the horse?

If I feel all is well after this stage I will got ahead with the purchase of the horse… it’s getting very exciting again!!

Does this horse need vetting


At this stage things get a little tense as I’ve already started planning all the things I’m going to do with this fabulous new horse and it’s yet to pass a vetting. So, I must remind myself, frequently, not to get too excited and be prepared for disappointment. All being well I then have to plan to get the newbie home and making sure it’s comfortable when it get here.

  • Do I need to get a vetting? If so what stage of vetting do I want?
  • Do I need to organise transport or can they delivery the horse?
  • What supplies do I need? (Must remember headcollar when collecting, forgotten that one too many times!)


I have a new horse at this stage! Yay! At this stage I like to give the horse a service, despite passing the vetting I always like make sure everything is comfortable for the horse.

  • Getting all its tack fitted properly
  • Getting the farrier to check over its feet and shoeingSettling in my new horse to its new home
  • Getting the equine dentist to see what’s going on with its teeth
  • Also getting someone such as an equine chiropractor or/ and equine physiotherapy to make sure their movements are okay and they’re physically comfortable.

After this journey I get to enjoy my new horse and all the adventures I plan to go on with it!


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